Parts Per Million 2.5 Living on the Limicoline

Too many cooks

“Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” (123:4)

I wonder about things sometimes. I wonder if it’s just me or if there’s something greater at large from which people take a cue to act standoffish and “proud”. Or maybe I’m just super-sensitive and beset with a higher-than-average number of complexes and such. And mind you, this is when I work up from a few key points (like how I believe God is real and there’re things going on in the world around me that are invisible) and then include notions I sense at large and in public. Lest you think I’m crazy, I have gotten corroboration from friends and acquaintances alike. Even from those I don’t know. Let me back up here a bit. Because this isn’t about anyone but myself.

A city of brotherly love

“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

The thought of a philly cheese steak came to me the other day. I mentioned it to a lady I was talking to under the opening line of “are you familiar with synasthesia?”. She was. I asked her if she knew of a good place in town to get one of those sandwiches. She didn’t. She asked what brought it on and I told her “nothing”. It just, sort-of came to me ex nihilo–out of nothing. She then proffered that it might be something else. At which point, I was reminded of a dream I had in my early twenties in which the far end of my old neighborhood was in fact Philadelphia–“The City of Brotherly Love” (that’s what the word means in Greek). It was grungy and dark. In the dream it was Winter. I was surprised to see my hometown turn from something familiar into something altogether different, urban, and actually, kind of exciting. So, I suppose this would be what the flavorful thought pointed to. Because that’s how it came, I tasted it and then saw the brown of the roast beef with the green of the bell peppers on the bread with the white cheese–in my mind. Brief and fleeting. The words “philly cheese steak” didn’t enter the equation. And as I believe things like this are God speaking to me, I would have to say that it centers around the necessarily spiritual aspect of the whole thing. Which would be “brotherly love”. Anytime God speaks, it’s at once eminently personal, grounded in His word (hence the scripture from 1 Peter above) and also directed outward so as to bless others.

I reference the quote from Muller in part one because, I believe, intermingled within all the “color” and “sound” and “thought”–as well as taste, touch, sight and smell–is God. I believe He’s in there by His Holy Spirit facilitating the whole matter. Here’s another example from my mind. But first, Paul Cezanne:

“Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced, but must be represented by something else–by color.”

One night I fell asleep while listening to “Limelight” on repeat. A strange thing happened as I entered the dream-state. I saw the interior of my old kindergarten classroom and superimposed on the middle distance were two neon yellow phospenes (the bright spots of light when you poke your eyelid when your eye’s shut) in my field of vision. I was asleep and dreaming but still a tad awake. Enough to be lucid enough to observe what was going on. Now, remember, the music’s playing through all this. Toward the end of the guitar solo and before the last refrain, the color and the high-pitched whine of the guitar solo became one. It was already my favorite song and I hadn’t gone to sleep that night wondering what would happen if I experimented with music. But I can tell you that now, whenever I listen to the it, the color is present on the field of my mind. The notes and the hue are–to me–the same. But the reason I gravitated to the song in the first place was more for the lyrics than anything. They speak to the shutting out of those who would only pretend to know you and be your friend. Also to the endeavoring to become real by “get[ting]on with the fascination, the real relation, the underlying theme”.

Here’s the thing about these two instances, I believe that they are in line with God speaking–that they are God speaking. Because they necessarily include so much more than words and definitions. God is not bound by anything but our unbelief. And He will most definitely work around that. But the thing for me is listening for His voice. We must realize that any impulse of impression of fleeting feeling we sense could be Him trying to say something. Take it to Him and see where it leads you. You could find yourself in an altogether different city or back in your kindergarten classroom. God can mix in all our senses to get His point, His message across. Out of all our thoughts, the millions and millions, His voice will rise to the surface.

To be continued.

Parts Per Million 1.5 Standing the Heat, Staying in the Kitchen

“He watereth the hills from His chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.” (Psalm 104:13-15, 28)

Alphabet soup

“So I walk in the room and I feel put upon. In the atmosphere I sense, I receive no foothold nor reminder of how I am, who I am. I don’t know why this is and I don’t know how I observe it from without. There seems to be a disconnect in me even in spite of knowing I’m “missing something”. This is why I carry around the piece of paper I mentioned in part one. Because, I believe, the closer one endeavors to get to God the less would they be able to take from the rest of the people around in order to become something. In other words, if you glimpse God, you cannot then come back down and just build yourself up and refuse to continue to look to and at Him. And when I talk about becoming “something”, I’m referring to more than that which your brain and body are hardwired to do beyond survival and procreation–i.e. attain a sense of individuality–and then maybe, just maybe, create something of our own. It’s not enough to want stability–and therefore entropy. We need to be moving on.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12, emphasis mine)

Thank you for reading. I must say, the platform of letters, words, syntax and grammar (the odd sprinkling of punctuation here and there) has been of utmost importance in elucidating what my brain (and, therefore self–in this world) has become, lo these thirty years. This is called language. Amazing, huh? We have it, where’d it come from? This is why I love Linguistics. Because this is the thinking and talking about language. Indicating there’s a level deeper that deals with structure in which we fill with said “letters, words, syntax, etc.”. Ways of looking at the stuff without getting caught up with the mere meaning of the words. The recipe, though, for bringing out an inherent meaning to myself cannot be done by looking at the scaffolding of those, aforementioned as they were (people, strangers), the way Linguistics won’t help you learn how to love someone in spite of knowing how to say “I love you”. Does this make sense? In other words, I cannot look at words and language and then writing to bring me out of myself. It hasn’t worked a hundred percent thus far and without God leading me along, this is as far as I’ll ever get. You have language acquisition. You have a native tongue. You know the meaning of the words. You mix it all together (now I’m getting metaphorical) yet the recipe lacks flavor. Sometimes I think the “flavor” I don’t sense is simply the vacancy in my introspection Paul points to in the above scripture from Corinthians. To where I won’t fully get to see myself the way God does until I get to Heaven. But I think there’s something else being worked out in me in the mean while.

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Word salad

Word salad is where you string together words that have no connection to one another. The sentence is therefore meaningless and while each word has its definition, illegibility, and therefore confusion, ensues. Thing about “word salad” is that when it’s spoken out, it sounds normal. Were it to be transcribed, the intonation of the speaker would be preserved with punctuation. The paragraphs would build and there’d be an end and a beginning. And you’d read through it and nothing would come of what you wrote. I must say, this is how I feel a lot of the time. I don’t see connection with people, except in the negative. Saying that the “human race” is a mix of disparate types and therefore bereft of an overarching meaning and narrative is common sense. But if you throw Christ in this mix, the recipe gains a flavor and body and substance. It becomes something nourishing. Because without the glue of God’s presence between the particles–life would indeed fall apart. Like a loaf of bread without enough kneading prior to being baked. Real quick, the word brioche (a type of bun) derives its meaning and origin from the French word broyer which means to “knead” or “crush”. Another connotation of the word is “break”. If it weren’t for an understanding that Christ was “broken” for us, agonizing through the process of being nailed to the cross and suffering a humiliating death, it’d make my own life a thing of transitory naught. I’d be left to myself and therefrom would have to muster all the ingredients of my own in order to make something for dinner.

“Another parable spake He unto them, The kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Luke 13:21)

The Lord’s Supper

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

The Lord’s Supper is amazing. When you see the bread and the wine as the symbol of His life for us and ingest accordingly, something happens to you. Assuming one’s heart is right with the Lord, a reset of sorts is performed. You take in Christ through a culinary act and His life diffuses and mingles the physical and spiritual.

It’s like this with the Word of God. The only structure I have to offer is that I find in the Bible. While they may be words (the font doesn’t matter, neither does the translation, really) and they may be served up to me in my native tongue they remain just that until you meet the author. All the sounds and letters and words. The punctuation (“jots” and “tittles”) become something altogether greater than the sum of their parts. You become you as God fills you up. Color becomes sound and sound becomes thought. And it’s those thoughts from which we build ourselves up as God planned. Because He loves you.

Parts Per Million part 1 The End From the Beginning

“If we were asked the riddle how images of the eye and all the sensations of our senses could be represented by sounds, nay, could be so embodied in sounds as to express thought and excite thought, we should probably give it up as the question of a madman, who, mixing up the most heterogenous subjects, attempted to change color into sound and sound into thought. Yet this is the riddle which we have now to solve.” Max Muller

Were you to continue reading the lectures from which I took this quote (I did), you might achieve some sort of salient answer to the proposed question. But again, as the lectures were delivered in 1861, a mere two years after Darwin’s Origin, and with their light treatment of the soul’s existence and therefore God (still, the world wonders) my contemporary interjection may indeed seem to be the ramblings of a “madman” in light of what is known now. We’ll see. No more mad than a “Spirit Being” crouching down (would He need to?) to the earth He made and scooping up a handful of such, or two, and forming “man”. No more mad than were the same Being to take from the original “man” and invent a cross-complementary being of the same type, opposite in gender. No more mad than the original Being becoming the same as the “man” and then restoring someone’s sight through usage of the aforementioned earth, or “clay” (Greek: paylos):

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” (John 9:5-6)

God? Okay, whatever. Jesus? I’m sure He existed. If you assent to the previous sentence, then I’m sure you think maybe that He was a good man. Perhaps He wasn’t all He said He was, (like a sort-of junior version of God) and maybe the mere words that attest to anything more than “human” were the work of master revisionist amanuenses down through the ages. Again, whatever. (“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:15) But the Holy Spirit? How do you even wrap your mind around a Being with whom one must acquaint themselves with the former two prior to even realizing exists? And that has been here all along:

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” (Proverbs 8:22-23)

By the seashore

An anthropomorphism is where you attribute human “stuff”–emotions, properties, character, etc.–to an inhuman object. I suppose the word would apply to an abstract like wisdom, I could be wrong. There’s probably a word for it of which I’m not aware. Removing it once more, an anthropopathism is where you attribute “human” characteristics to a deity–in this case, God. As a Christian, I would say the ultimate fulfillment of this word’s definition would be the person of Jesus. But! A mixture of the two, I would say, applies to the Holy Spirit. A being who is hard to define at best. Actually, He’s “the Comforter” (John 14:16) so there’s that. And I don’t mean to be flippant. If you look in between the two words, it’s almost as if you have to already know what you’re looking at were you to try and make sense of an invisible being.

I would say that anthropomorphizing an object is on the way bottom end of the “idolatry spectrum”. Something I just coined right now to describe the, uh, spectrum of how God is and interacts along the lines of this plane and dimension. Look at a person, any person. And make sure they know you’re staring at them. This works all the better if you don’t know anything about the person you’re, not ogling or oeillading (can I do that?)–observing. This is a fine line as there are all sorts of people I observe everyday (as, I’m sure do you) who don’t know I’m doing it and who, quite frankly, I wouldn’t want knowing. I check my mind and heart for traces of anything unethical and I look on (or away, whatever). And before I go any further, all I’m doing is transcribing the script from which I read whenever I go out in public. I’ll stand in a crowded place while people of all ages and races and such wheel by and around and (hopefully) take no notice that I have to re-learn all my social graces each time I enter a room. So much goes into my comportment in the world at large that I must seriously wonder at my brain. Because while I can assuredly attest to seeing God with my spirit, it’s as concrete as the gander I’ve given at my own gray matter. This stuff is indeed a “gray matter”.

Parts Per Million part 2 Loud and Clear

She sells seashells on the Seychelles

“Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near;  together to judgment.” (Isaiah 41:1)

A moment of silence please. It’s not the ocean you hear when you hold the shell to your ear, it’s your heart. Max Muller in part one refers to the images taken in by our eyes in turn turning into that which we attach sounds and therefore meaning (or is it the other way around?). All I know is that the imagery with which each solid object has been labeled–taxonomized, as it were–with words is the object you pick up with your hands or feel. And still we’re no closer to figuring out how this thing called “language” works. I mean, if I don’t understand how my brain works, will it still work? And I’m hungry! Give me a moment before I eat (and after I say grace) to figure out my digestive process(es). Thanks. Real quick, diaphonous refers to similar sounds across a phonetic spectrum. Like the “s” in the tongue twister above. Diaphanous, however, simply means “light”, “airy”. Insubstantial. Or, in the case of the Holy Spirit, not taken seriously. Dismissed as unnecessary and therefore sidelined in a fuller measure. It’s one thing to dismiss Him as a non-Christian. Quite another to dismiss and ignore as a believer. The Holy Spirit is like the ocean from which we came. We are a spirit (I believe–not just a soul) and when we neglect the stuff from which we came, spiritually, all we hear is our own heartbeat as it slowly dies down. Listening, then, for the true voice of the Holy Spirit is what takes us back to God. The God who formed us.

Holy Spirit/Holy Psirit

“Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands.” (Isaiah 42:12)

Think about your will. That with which you purpose to do things. If the idea that you are merely matter directed around by your impulses is abhorrent to you, play it up. If the notion that your are merely responding to your brain–the way you respond to your stomach when it’s empty, albeit way more complex–doesn’t go to the top floor (it’s because you’re more than your body), you might be something more than your body.

“For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:11-13)

The Lord has a voice. And I’m referring to each member of the Trinity when I say that. While I find that God’s (the Father’s)  voice resonates across time and season, Jesus’ voice is distinctly His own. More, uh, human sounding, in other words. The Holy Spirit, however, has not only been facilitating all of it–as in, causing it to happen on this plane and me to hear it–but is also like a mood. Both an undercurrent to my life to which I am not always either attuned or at least conscious of, or even present for. This is what Jesus provided for the human race with His death and resurrection. And this is what He carried around with Him after His baptism in the river Jordan. “And, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him:” (Matthew 3:16) Interesting how it says He got to see it as it was happening. One of the hallmarks of the Holy Spirit is that you don’t really get to see when He comes in to your life except that He’s been there since before you became aware. And this is where you want to make sure what you’re hearing is truly Him. Because the voices that direct us around, outside us, of course, do the enemy try to counterfeit. Hence the anagrammed first syllable to the second word on the right side of the bolded slash above.

“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.” (John 19:34-35)

So, I didn’t actually see it happen. But I do believe it. I believe Jesus died on the cross like it says and that the blood symbolizes His life spilled out for me and that the water symbolizes the Holy Spirit He was carrying around. The thing about the Holy Spirit, though, is that in order to receive Him, you must look beyond yourself. Beyond your own brain and heartbeat to Jesus. Anything less, is, well, something else.